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MILF wants govt to also release Moro pol detainees
On Political Prisoners
Monday, 10 January 2011 11:01

MILF wants govt to also release Moro pol detainees

01/08/2011 | 05:52 PM

source: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/210099/milf-wants-govt-to-also-release-moro-pol-detainees

Taking their cue from the communist-led National Democratic Front, secessionist rebels in Mindanao urged the national government Saturday to also release Moro political detainees to push the peace process forward.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel secretariat member Jun Mantawil said now is the best time to release the Moro political prisoners, as the peace talks are at an “impasse."

“Releasing these detainees can help jumpstart the ailing GRP [Government of the Republic of the Philippines]-MILF peace talks ... This is the best time to make the release while there is impasse in talks," Mantawil said in an interview on the MILF website.


He added the gesture can boost the people’s confidence and restart what the MILF described as the “off-and-on" peace talks that started in 1997.

On Dec. 27, the MILF declared that it will not enter into informal peace talks with the government this month unless the "third-party facilitator" issue is resolved. (See: MILF: No talks unless facilitator issue resolved)

The MILF referred to the cases of Edward Guerra, an engineer by training and “a senior member of the Central Committee of the MILF," and Commander Aguilar Saligan, who were linked to the siege of Maasim, Sarangani on August 16, 2008.

In 2008, rogue MILF forces attacked several areas in Mindanao after the Supreme Court thumbed down a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) that many sectors hoped would have clinched the peace process in Mindanao.

But the MILF noted both Guerra and Saligan had denied any role in the attack, saying the MILF already denounced the attack and disclaimed any responsibility.

In Guerra’s case, Mantawil said he is suffering from various ailments including hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes.

The MILF said Guerra is detained at Fort Bonifacio, isolated in a small cell with no ventilation except for a very small window.

Guerra was arrested at the Davao International Airport last September 22 while enroute to Geneva, Switzerland to a United Nations conference on human rights.

Marvic Leonen, the government’s chief negotiator in peace talks with the MILF, had quickly defended Guerra’s arrest, saying that the MILF official was served a valid court warrant and that his name was never submitted as a direct negotiator of the rebel group. (See: MILF starts to doubt govt sincerity on peace talks)

The MILF said there are at least 13 of its legitimate members who are still behind bars.

It said its ceasefire committee had filed a protest and complaint over these arrests, which it said violated a ceasefire agreement signed in 1997 and reinstated in 2001.

Mantawil claimed the criminal charges filed against MILF members “are mostly fabricated, designed to please the politicians, mining magnates, rich plantation owners in Mindanao especially those in Sarangani."

He reiterated the earlier call of the MILF for the government to release these detainees immediately in the spirit of the peace process and ceasefire.—JV, GMANews.TV


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